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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Battlefields

The KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields Route boasts the largest concentration of significant battles and war related sites in South Africa – with 82 battlefields, museums, old fortifications and places of remembrance bearing testimony to the wars that swept across South Africa between 1879 and 1902. But the region’s history starts long before this, with the legendary King Shaka and the Zulu nation creating upheaval among local tribes.

Battlefields

Heading inland and wondering what to do? Take a detour off the N3TC as it heads through picturesque landscapes with rolling plains, rocky hills, undulating valleys and a concentration of historical battle sites. The R602, which links Ladysmith to Dundee, offers budding photographers the opportunity to capture untamed wild beauty of rising hills covered with thorn trees, aloes and riverine bushland as it passes us by. Pause awhile at the rock-strewn hills and fields littered with graveyards and the remains of fortifications that are memorials to the battles that took place over numerous years shaping both South African and British history. October commemorates the start of the Anglo Boer War, on the 11 October 1899, and the many battles the followed. With the outbreak of war, a detachment of British troops was sent from Ladysmith, where they were concentrated, to Dundee. The decision to hold and defend Dundee was based on the political need ensure a supply of bunker coal for the British ships calling at Durban harbor – something that the Dundee coal mines owners used to their advantage. On the 30 October, the British force remaining in Ladysmith decided to launch a sortie against Boer armies… something that didn’t end well. It resulted in the Siege of Ladysmith, a lengthy battle taking place from 2 November to 28 February the following year. The Ladysmith Siege Museum on Murchison Street is housed in a building built in 1884 as a market house, which then served as a ration post for civilians during the siege. The comprehensive display of memorabilia, maps, uniforms and interpretive panels as well as the historical walkabout offers visitors a glimpse of life at that time. On arrival in Dundee, be sure to head to the Talana Museum – especially if you can time your visit over the weekend of 19-21 October. The museum, which is set on 20 acres of heritage park with 47 buildings to explore, is set to come alive with the sound Scottish bagpipes, Highland games, vintage and veteran cars as well as battle reenactments. And if this weren’t enough, there’s the Mine Walkers Tour, a 5km walk in memory of the 7000 Zulu mine workers who walked back to Natal at the outbreak of the Anglo Boer war in October 1899; and the Talana Ghost Walk on the 19th October which follows the footsteps of British soldiers in a guided walk up Talana Hill. On the night of the 19th the Boers had taken up positions on Talana Hill, and the following morning rained shells onto the British camp who retaliated – the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of Talana Hill, had the British eventually taking a tactical victory as the Boers retreated. Battles aside, there’s much to keep visitors entertained, from white water rafting and mountain biking, to less strenuous activities like game viewing, or a round of golf. And don’t miss the chance of ‘ticking’ one of the nearly 400 species of bird that have been identified along the Amajuba Birding Meander.

what to do in the battlefields

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Amajuba District Municipality

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did you know

Passing through Ladysmith one cannot miss the Soofie Masjid Mosque, which sits on the banks of the Klip River. Did you know that it is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the Southern Hemisphere? The original mosque was built in 1898 out of wood and iron, however, it was replaced with the current mosque in 1969 by master builder ‘Chacha’ Jamaloodeen.

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